LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Home cooks and consumers throughout Los Angeles county have been calling on their county supervisors to opt-in to AB 626, the California Homemade Food Act, which was signed into state law on September 18th, 2018 and took effect January 1st, 2019. Although the bill passed in the California state legislature, it is up to each county in California to adopt the law.
After over a year of passing at the state level, Los Angeles county has yet to adopt the legislation and make this opportunity available to its residents. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health began rolling out the AB 626 opt-in in December 2018, by hosting a public information session focusing on the new legislation, during which they distributed a summary of what the new permitting process would look like. However, the roll out was halted in 2019 waiting for AB 377, a 'clean-up' bill to AB 626, which was passed on October 7th, 2019. The process for adopting AB 626 and bringing permitted home kitchen operations to Los Angeles county has been slow, at best, leaving eager home cooks and hungry neighbors in limbo.
Riverside county is the first and only county thus far to opt-in to AB 626. Riverside launched its MEHKO (Micro Enterprise Home Kitchen Operations) permitting program in May of 2019, and has granted 28 MEHKO permits to date. There are, however, lessons to be learned from the Riverside roll out. First off, the permitting fee is extremely high, at $651 annually, and unaffordable to many folks wanting to take advantage of this economic opportunity. In an October 2019 email from a Riverside HomeCook applicant to DishDivvy, a leading online platform for HomeCooks, the applicant informed DishDivvy staff, "Unfortunately, I can't afford to get the permit right now… do you provide help with that matter?"
In a letter to County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Nate Cash, a Los Angeles home cook eager to take advantage of AB 626, said, "I also urge you to make sure the permit fee for home cooks in LA county is affordable, so that people like me can afford to take advantage of this new opportunity."
The rollout of AB 626 in LA county is important not only to home cooks looking for income opportunities, but also to our communities, who are looking for healthier local dining options. In a letter to County Supervisor Kathryn Barger's office, Glendale resident Sara Zahed said, "My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis several years ago, and due to the progression of the disease, she is unable to cook for herself … so many of the simple daily tasks we take for granted, such as cooking, have become extremely difficult and challenging obstacles for her." AB 626 would provide LA communities access to nearby, local cooks who can help provide more accessible, healthier meals via a safe, permitted program. On a similar note, Hermosa Beach resident and long-time non-profit leader Jay Allen wrote to Supervisor Janice Hanh, "Having access to locally-prepared homemade food would be a huge benefit to the visually-impaired community, as it would empower them to have better choices when it comes to convenient food options."
AB 626 and AB 377 passed in state legislature, with overwhelming bi-partisan support. "The fact of the matter is the sale of homemade food has been happening in our communities for years, and with the advent of online tools and social media, it's becoming more prevalent on tech platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. It is in the county's best interest to provide a pathway towards legalization, in order to create a safe and permitted environment for home kitchen operations and consumers alike," said Elen Asatryan, Chief Policy Consultant for DishDivvy.
Homemade food is a large part of Los Angeles food culture, and so many entrepreneurs have gotten their start from their home kitchens. Residents are in support of this new economy in their communities, and Los Angeles county supervisors are called on to take action, to help folks in underrepresented groups, largely women and minorities, gain access into the highly competitive commercial food space.
DishDivvy is a food tech company located in Los Angeles, that connects HomeCooks with Hungry Neighbors. Through its innovative technology, DishDivvy empowers HomeCooks to leverage their culinary skillset, coupled with the resource of their home kitchen, to share delicious homemade meals with their community. By tapping into locally prepared homemade food, DishDivvy is helping communities eat better in a sustainable and wholesome way. Learn more at https://www.dishdivvy.com.